Church, Clergy, and Authority: An Exploration of Medieval Religious Life and Culture

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 May 2024 | Viewed by 229

Special Issue Editors

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Theology Department, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, UK
Interests: anima mundi; robert grosseteste; chartres; education; ecclesiology

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Modern Languages, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AS, UK
Interests: medieval religion; impact of religion on society in the middle ages; medieval bishops; robert grosseteste; art and architecture of medieval churches

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The medieval period from the fifth to the fourteenth century was one of enormous paradigm shifts regarding religious life in Europe and beyond. If we take this period to begin after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and end with the Reformation, we have myriad events, wars, doctrinal discussions and power struggles in between. Such a period might well be looked upon as the most intense in terms of loyalties, persecutions, assertions of authority, heresy, subversion and movements of renewal, many of which still resonant in our religious and secular lives in the twenty-first century and have contributed to shape our way of living as we know it. The study of this period poses interesting questions and points of discussion about definitions of events, identifications of driving forces, assessments of significance and interpretations of meaning. The liveliness of contemporary scholarly debates on these issues bears witness to the lasting importance of these centuries in terms of not only ecclesiastical but secular history.

This Special Issue will consider the developments during this time with regard to the power and authority of the Churches, both in the West and East. It will look at how these developments redefined identities both clerical and lay. The articles will examine expressions of these changes within religious life and culture in terms of the arts, architecture, Church structures, power dynamics and theological understanding. In addition, it will discuss the impact of changes in perceptions towards ordinary people, women and society in general, and those who lived on the fringes or beyond the boundaries of Christendom such as heretics, Jews and Muslims.

Dr. Jack Cunningham
Dr. Angelo M. Silvestri
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • church
  • authority
  • community
  • dissent
  • culture
  • clergy

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Blurred Boundaries and Contested Authorities in Two Archenfield Parishes in the Later Middle Ages
Authors: Anonymous for peer review
Affiliation: Anonymous for peer review
Abstract: Archenfield, the land between the Wye and the Monnow in what became known as the Welsh Marches, had its origins in Roman Ariconium and the small British kingdom of Ergyng. Mercian and then Norman expansion into the area led to a complex pattern of jurisdictions, languages and cultures that is not easily reducible to the concept of a “border”, a layered complexity that persisted into Tudor times. The present study focusses on how a small group of fifteenth-century manuscripts from Pencoyd, one of the Archenfield villages, whose contents, together with other records from nearby parishes such as Garway, witness to that persistence and show how episcopal authority was a contestable item in an area that resisted tidy boundaries, how the multi-layered nature of ecclesiastical authority itself gave parishioners even in a very rural area the possibility of resisting authority, and how authority and good standing needed to be and could be won by good practice. This local picture adds nuance and texture to our understanding of the church, clergy and authority in the area of the Welsh Marches, and challenges some the terminologies and analyses we may impose on them if such detail is not considered.

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